Food Glorious Food – Book Give Away!

 

crumbs

As any new Mum out there knows, those first few weeks with a new born is emotional, exhausting, mind blowing and all consuming. You can’t believe when the midwife comes over at mid day you’re still not dressed let alone brushed your teeth. This little 50 inch long human really does take all your time and energy, how on earth will you ever leave the house again?!

When people often ask me what are the real survival tips for those first weeks I always talk about food. Food provides a new mother with all her energy she needs for her recovery after having a baby, especially if breastfeeding. Iron rich foods for boosting those energy levels (green leafy vegetables, liver, red meat, apricots, chickpeas and lentils) are vital not to mention the importance of fibre for helping that first poo to pass! Protein rich foods too are really important for tissue healing. So if you’ve has a vaginal tear or even a c-section make sure your eating food such as eggs, milk, yoghurt, pork, chicken and turkey. Your appetite often increases in those first few days, I recall eating an entire lasagne my Mother-in-law made much to my husband’s horror.

But the one thing about trying to eat all this food is there is literally no time to cook it, you will barely manage to put some toast in the toaster. In fact we reheated so many cups of teas in those first few weeks it was a jolly good thing we owned a microwave. Those few weeks you have once you’ve finished work and before your baby arrives is a great time to start cooking and freezing lots of delicious meals. And what better way to get some fab recipes from two Mums who know what to cook

Claire and Lucy from Crumbs Food have a great new cookbook out and we have a copy of it for one lucky reader to win! In this cookbook you’ll find delicious, nutritious meals for you and the whole family, some recipes take just 5 minutes to make!  From lentil soup, home made beans to tzatziki salmon pasta there is a meal idea for every hungry tired new parent.

All you have to do to enter is to tell me; what was the first thing you ate after giving birth. Whether it was a piece of white cardboard NHS toast with jam or an entire bar of Green and Blacks dark chocolate (guilty). Leave your answers in the comments box below and I’ll pick the best answer. Good luck!

Birth Story Of The Week – Tracey and her Twins

Newborn Photography

When I was a little girl I always dreamt of having twins but never thought that that dream would become a reality. I was born with a rare condition called hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism that was not formally diagnosed until I was twenty one. I spent my teens at the mercy of intrusive tests and doctors that often spoke over me and left me feeling empty inside. One specific phrase was always circling my mind, ‘you may never be able to have children’. My husband Ben is the first person I ever shared this with. He was so supportive and I just knew that he was ‘the one’.  After exploring treatment options we were over the moon in the summer of 2010 when I fell pregnant with our eldest daughter Eliza. It was at this time that a friend introduced us to hypnobirthing.

 Ben and I used these relaxation techniques throughout my pregnancy and in preparation for Eliza’s birth. We decided to have a home water birth and in 2011 she was born safely and quickly at home, weighing a healthy 7lb 5oz. My labour was enjoyable and we were especially proud that we remained so calm despite our midwives not showing up until just thirty minutes before her birth! We had been so busy organising the pool and standing together throughout surges that neither one of us had noticed the hours drift by. At the point when the midwives arrived I was fully dilated and hadn’t realised it, I just felt the need to bear down and breath my baby out. This was my light bulb moment and I couldn’t wait to do it again. I truly loved the experience despite having a retained placenta and an unfortunate transfer to hospital for its removal in theatre.

Starting the fertility journey again for our second child was not going to be as easy as we had hoped. We were no longer entitled to funding and so had to find other avenues to provide a sibling for Eliza. I am part of many fertility networks and after following the donor journey of a friend I realised there were people out there less fortunate than ourselves that would love a child to call their own. She introduced me to egg sharing. I would undergo funded IVF but would donate half of my eggs to an anonymous couple. After many discussions and counselling sessions we decided to go ahead. Unfortunately our first IVF cycle was to be unsuccessful, as was our second, but we did have one embryo left to freeze. In the mean time we went on to try ovulation induction with injectables.

I still remember the day I tested. Finally after such a hard year there it was ‘pregnant’. I cried so much, I was so happy that we had finally made it! Due to the nature of our treatment the clinic booked me an early scan. They looked worried, ‘this may be a blighted ovum or it may just be too early’. There appeared to be a small sac but no baby on the ultra sound, I was devastated and cried all the way home. I was advised to have a re-scan in a weeks time. Ben tried to reassure me as I had had ‘some’ pregnancy symptoms, I had been feeling nauseated and swollen but wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination. When I arrived at my local hospital I was very anxious. The lady reassured me and turned the screen to face me. I could see two dark sacs. ‘Are they my swollen ovaries?’ …’no’ she said, ‘they are your babies’.

In the weeks that past I wanted to share the news but we decided to wait until the twelve week point. Straight away I started to practice hypnobirthing with my husband. We dedicated an evening a week to relaxation techniques, positive affirmations and light touch massage. We were so excited to be able to plan another homebirth, but this time with our twins! Little did we know that we were about to face some big hurdles. When I arrived to my booking appointment everything seemed fine until I saw ‘high risk’ written on my file.

High risk care meant that I would be having care between midwives and obstetricians. I had come to expect that this may be the case as others had warned me that I would not be ‘allowed’ to have a homebirth, or a water birth on the midwife led unit. It was explained that I would have to have a hospital birth on the consultant led unit, that they had a specialist room for birthing multiples. We decided to visit this space and booked a tour of the hospital. The rooms in the midwife led unit were gorgeous, spacious and welcoming. A home from home environment. The multiples room however was the only one on the consultant led unit that was not decorated. It was cold and uninviting. There was medical equipment everywhere and it looked like a dumping ground for unused equipment. In the corner was an operating table and loose tiles hung from the ceiling. As soon as the tour had finished my husband  and I looked at each other. ‘There is no way we are birthing our babies in there’.

I raised my concerns with my community midwife and she put me in touch with the Supervisor of Midwives. She was great and helped us write a birth plan that would meet the consultants half way with their demands. I agreed to be on the consultant led unit but in the water birthing room, if it was available on the day. I requested to have predominantly midwife led care and interventions were to be used only if entirely necessary and the reasons for these were to be clearly explained to my husband and I so that we could make informed decisions on my babies birthing day. I decided to decline continuous monitoring and the siting of epidurals and canulas as these would prevent me birthing in the water.  Instead I opted for intermittent monitoring and water and/or gas and air to help with any discomfort I may feel. I was confident that I could birth my babies naturally and I expressed how important it was that I felt comfortable in my birthing environment to aid this process. I knew from my first experience of birth that I would want to be active and birthing upright, even if this was not possible in water when the day came. I explained the importance of my hypnobirthing techniques and creating a relaxing environment to birth in. That these wishes needed to be respected and requested that my husband and doula were to be the only persons present for the majority of the birth, alongside my midwife.

Although the consultants were not entirely happy with my plan they appeared to have accepted it. However as the weeks went by things took a turn and I was called in for more and more regular ‘meetings’. The stress of these meetings was starting to take its toll on my husband and I. We were being labelled as an ‘issue’, and were made aware that higher bodies were discussing our ’case’. We felt this was totally uncalled for. I was in extremely good health and had no underlying health issues that could affect the birth, no increased BP or signs of pre-eclampsia and regular growth scans showed that both girls were doing extremely well. Despite all of this we were bombarded with comments about putting our babies at risk of dying and constantly reminded about the risks of stillbirth past 37 weeks. This scare mongering was very upsetting as our babies health was always at the fore front of our mind and any decisions we made were always informed decisions. No actual facts or figures could be presented to us when we requested them and our own research showed that the majority of risks for twins surrounded identical twins and those sharing a placenta. Our girls are fraternal and were in separate sacs with separate placentas.

In our eyes we were the ideal candidates for a natural twin birth. The babies and I were in good health and twin one was head down throughout most of my pregnancy and showing no signs of changing as I approached the third trimester. Twin two was breech but I was told this shouldn’t be a problem for a vaginal birth as she may move once twin one was born. As it happened I felt a strong pressure in my side as I approached 36 weeks, followed by a dizzy spell. This pressure was twin two changing positions. She was now head down too,  so even though I was being advised to book an elective c section or induction at 37 weeks I saw no medical reason to do so.

At 38 weeks I had had enough and made the brave decision to change hospitals. The staff at my new hospital were much more in favour of natural twin birth and supported and respected our wishes. We agreed to regular weekly monitoring and additional scans to check babies and placenta health. This seemed like a fair compromise and I was pleased to hear that the midwives supported hypnobirthing mums and could see its benefits for mum and baby. Everything was progressing well and at 38 & 39 weeks I agreed to a sweep to move things along a little. This seemed like the most natural intervention I could endure. However it was an awful experience and at 40 weeks the babies had still not arrived, so clearly my body was not ready. We still wanted to avoid induction and so I had some alternative therapies including acupuncture, reflexology and a hypnosis fear release session with friends. I felt a million dollars and slept peacefully that night.

At 40 weeks and 2 days my labour started spontaneously. I felt a pop and excitedly woke my husband. It was strange as I was sure my waters had ruptured but there was no water in sight. Once at the hospital I was pleased to see the birthing room I wanted was free. It was spacious with a large birthing pool and natural landscape on the wall. At this point we called Tamara, our doula and friend, despite the time being just 2am she ventured down to join us. The next few hours passed peacefully. I had dimmed lights, relaxing music and the two most important people with me. They were a great support system and stopped any un-necessary interruptions. The pressure in my back was getting stronger and stronger so my doula advised that I keep changing positions. I leant over my birthing ball and rocked peacefully whilst my husband massaged my back. My doula added a heat pack and it was such a great relief. I think I even snoozed for a little while.

At around 6am I requested to get into the birthing pool but after checking me the midwife on duty didn’t feel I was far enough into established labour. This happened with my first pregnancy too. If you are calm people often assume you are not very far on but I just knew things would increase rapidly from that moment on. My doula was very supportive and said, ‘just remember it is just a number, you are doing great’. By the time the midwives changed morning shifts I was in the pool. I felt urges to bear down and the pressure in my back was becoming more intense and very different to what I had experienced with my first birth, I now know that this was probably because Emily was back to back but we had no idea that this was the case at the time. I continued to use my hypnobirthing surge breaths in between surges to stay calm and relaxed. My new midwife was amazing. She had experience of twin birth and immediately put me at ease with her confidence and calm persona. She could see that my labour was progressing quickly and requested I get out of the pool for some intermittent monitoring but gave me the choice to return if I wanted to. I was offered gas and air and used it to change positions.

By about 8.30am I was upright on the bed, leaning over my ball and rocking back and forth. I made some humming noises as I rocked back and forth and this helped me stay relaxed. Another hour passed and I decided to lean over the back of the bed. Being in this upright position felt comfortable and I was able to rest a little between surges. They were now coming very frequently and I was advised that I was fully dilated. At 10.21am Emily Grace was birthed gently into the world weighing 7lb 5oz. She didn’t make a sound but instead just looked up at me, she was so calm and relaxed. I was able to hold her in my arms while I waited for her cord to stop pulsating.

Five minutes passed and my surges were yet to return. I was asked to turn around and was shocked to find a room full of medical professionals, I was so deep in self hypnosis that I had no idea they were there! My midwife was very impressed and told me that it is rare for a mum to birth a back to back baby without any interventions. After a further ten minutes I could see that the medical professionals were getting uneasy as my surges had yet to return and they had started to prepare a drip. After getting through my entire labour without any interference from others I was reluctant to let it happen now. My doula could see that I was uneasy with this and advised that I try latching Emily onto the breast as this may help them return. I started to feel some mild surges and so my husband and Tamara helped me get back into the upright position. Ben held my hand and told me that I was doing great and that he was so proud of me. Tamara held Emily so that I knew she was in safe hands.

Within less than five minutes Eryn Roses’ head was birthed. This time it felt so fast. Eryn was in the perfect birthing position with her waters intact. I remember a silent wait for her body to emerge and then she just appeared weighing a healthy 6lb 15 1/2oz. I couldn’t believe that both my girls were born with their waters intact. This is seen to be rare but very lucky. I felt so blessed that they were both born safely into the world. We waited for Eryn’s cord to stop pulsating and then both girls were returned to me for skin to skin. I remember just staring at them, amazed that my birth had gone exactly as I wanted it to. Both girls immediately latched on to feed and I was so proud of them.

About half hour passed and I was advised to have the injection to aid the placentas delivery. I was a little anxious about this after my previous retained placenta and more than anything I did not want a repeat of that experience. I did not want to be taken away from my babies. Ben watched the girls and Tamara held my hand. Just having her there with words of encouragement reminded me that I could do this. Sure enough within about another fifteen minutes I birthed the placenta. I remember being amazed by its size and noticed that both girls placentas had merged into one giant one.  We chose to keep the cords and Tamara had them arranged in a heart shape. Every time I look at them I am reminded of my wonderful birth experience. I had no stitches and was told that if I wanted to I could go home that morning or if I preferred I could stay on the midwife led unit for a night. This is unheard of at The Princess Alexandra hospital but the medical professionals were so proud of my birth and the way it went that they saw no reason why I should be denied this  relaxing opportunity. I had a lovely stay with my girls and drove myself home the next morning.

My amazing birth experiences have led me to my recent Wise Hippo instructor training. Now that it is complete I cannot wait to begin my classes and empower other women to make confident, informed decisions about their special births. After all, every woman deserves the right to have a wonderful birth experience! You can find out more about me and my hypnobirthing classes at www.birthingcalmly.co.uk

Baby Essentials – That every new Mum needs for under £50

As every new Mum knows, the high street and internet are full of hundreds of baby products for new parents to choose from. Even though my girls are now 4 and 7 the choice of bibs for example has multiplied to another level since they were being weaned. I am a self confessed shop-oholic, so when it came to buying bits for my babies I was of course scouring the baby boutiques for the ‘must haves’. ‘Of course we need a cream cashmere baby blanket’ I said to persuade my sceptical husband. And of course he was right, we didn’t need anything that was hand wash only.

What I wish someone had really told me, was what I actually need that didn’t break the bank. Essential baby bits that create better quality sleep, stimulate your baby enough to make them sleep, help through those tricky teething days and products that wash and travel well. So when I was asked by one of my women who is almost due, what essential items I would recommend, I did a bit of research and came up with these brilliant 10 items! Enjoy.

Images: c/o Babydino.com  

  1. These brilliant Buggy Clips weren’t around when I had my first daughter but I’ll admit I stalked a mum in Sainsburys who had one dangling off her buggy just to get a closer look. No more shoving all your shopping bags under your minuscule buggy basket, these sturdy clips are great and fit all buggy types.
  2. A sleeping bag is an absolute must for when your baby out grows being swaddled. No more baby getting cold from kicking off his blankets in the night! These Gro Company sleeping bags start from new born and go up to 36 months. And with so many gorgeous designs to choose from throughout the seasons you’ll find it a permanent item for your baby’s bedtime routine.
  3. Another genius idea from the Gro Company is this portable black out blind. Once you’ve got home life sorted, it’s time to re-engage your social life and stay at friends houses. All I can say it once you’ve slept in a guest room with a flimsy curtain when your baby is use to their blacked out bedroom, you soon realise why this blind was created. It fits any type of window and we still take ours abroad with us on Summer holiday each year. Thank you Gro Company.
  4. I’ve banged on before at how much I think swaddling is the key to settling an unsettled baby and I literally could not have survived without giant swaddles. Mopping up baby sick, catching the milk drips, and now my 4 year old takes her ‘muzzie’ to bed, these basic but essential pieces of fabric should be in every new mum’s baby bag.
  5. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to provide the best nutritional start for your baby’s life. But it’s a skill both you and your baby need to learn, it takes time and patience and can be back breaking. My shoulders were permanently hunched over until my Mum bought me one of these. Great for giving you arms extra support and ensuring your baby is in the correct ‘tummy to mummy’ position. This Chicco Boppy pillow has a removable washable cover and can be used as a support pillow as your baby learns to sit up.
  6. I remember one friend telling me her newborn only settled when she did the hovering or ran the shower. Nonsense I thought until I had my own baby and tested this out. Luckily the Cloud B on the go Sleep Sheep (try saying that after too many glasses of wine) is far more practical than taking your Dyson out with you in the park. This  can easily clip onto your pram or car seat and plays an array of noises aimed to help soothe your baby to sleep.
  7. So you’ve made the transition to being out and about but you know come 2pm you little one is going to need her afternoon nap. Until I bought one of these, I would make the trip back home to ensure my daughter was asleep in her blackout bedroom. But this Snoozeshade does just that – without you having to leave the pub! It also works brilliant on very hot days as it helps block 99% of harmful UV rays.
  8. No child can go through it’s teething life without owning a Sophie The Giraffe, so popular that I’m sure they hand them out when parents leave the hospital in France. Rubber, soft and squeaky she is the perfect companion for all babies of any age.
  9. Driving your precious new baby in a car is a nerve racking experience for any new Mum, and when your baby is still in a rear facing car seat you’re constantly trying to turn around to check on them. This Diono Easy View Mirror is a perfect way for any parent to clearly and safely see their baby without taking your concentration off the road.
  10. From an early age babies love looking at black and white shapes. This lovely Chicco Baby Senses Rattle is light and easy to grasp, for the smallest of hands, perfect to stimulate hand eye coordination in young babies.

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Abi and and Linus

Oooo I do love a birth story and one from a midwife too! Abi has 2 children and shares her birth story here of her second child Linus now 6 months old.

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As a midwife I’ve been privileged to have attended a lot of home births. My community mentor when I was a student midwife was a real home birth advocate and had a really high home birth rate for our area. I’ll never forget the thrill of getting those phone calls in the middle of the night to say a lady we had been looking after throughout pregnancy was in labour and to get there ASAP. It was a delight to see women at ease in the comfort of their own surroundings, relaxed and excited, interacting with their birth partner as normal, free from any of the “rules” in hospital. Inspired by these women doing birth their way, I knew even then when it came to having my babies I wanted to have them at home.

I’d been booked for home birth in 2011 with my daughter, but unfortunately needed inducing the week before my due date due to static growth and reduced amniotic fluid. However I still had a really positive experience, labouring in the pool and having a quick birth on dry land after about 6 hours of established labour.

However, when I got pregnant with my son I knew right away I would have him at home, all being well. It’s not even as if I’m particularly emotionally attached to our house, but having been through two horrendous hyperemesis pregnancies I felt even more strongly that hospital was not the place for me, having spent so much time there being rehydrated and patched up. I also felt keen to end my baby making days in the best way possible, to get, if you’ll forgive the word, some “closure”. Luckily apart from “just” the hyperemesis my pregnancy was pretty normal other than a bout of anaemia at 36 weeks. However, this wasn’t going to stop me achieving my dream of a home birth at the last hurdle, and a week of ferrous fumerate tablets and intensive spinach consumption sorted that out!

We’d hired a La Bassine birth pool from WaterBaby Birthing Hire and can thoroughly recommend their services. I’d also ordered a TENS machine as it had helped me so much with my first labour. I’d prepared home birth boxes rather than hospital bags with everything we might need for me or the baby, so my husband knew where to look or to just grab the boxes should I need transferring to hospital at any time. We had plenty of old towels and sheets as well as the essential biscuits and drinks for the midwives. We were good to go.

Having been induced before I had no idea when or how this baby might begin to come. It turned out he decided to come at the same gestation as his sister, 39+3. I’d been in a foul mood the night before (exactly 6 months ago tonight as I write this!), having been really sick that evening. I even text my midwife to tell her how fed up I was! She said in hindsight when she got that text she knew I was going to go into labour that night! As I went to bed I remarked grumpily to my husband what a state the house was in and how it was a good thing I wasn’t going to go into labour that night. Little did I know!

I woke up at 2:30 contracting out of the blue and they were regular, every 6 minutes, but short lasting. My husband was asleep in our daughters room, so I pottered around for a while doing jobs to make sure this was it before waking him. Quite soon the contractions went to every 2 minutes but still only lasting 30 seconds. However, by 4am they were still in this pattern so I felt sure the baby would be arriving that day so woke my husband with that old cliché “it’s time!”

I’d decided against having my daughter there for the birth. I would have loved her see her brother born but it would have been selfish of me as she is a sensitive soul and I was concerned I might get quite vocal during transition! So we called my parents to come collect her and they arrived at 6am, along with my wonderful midwife who I’ve worked alongside for the past 8 years and who looked after me so well through my awful pregnancy. I’ll never forget the look of excitement on my daughters gorgeous sleepy face as she came downstairs as usual that morning and saw us all standing there in the living room!

I put the TENS on and sat with my midwife chatting and having breakfast while my husband busied himself with setting the pool up. I still wasn’t in established labour but as I only had a 6 hour labour with my daughter we all knew it could kick off any time. Slowly but surely the contractions started lasting longer and became stronger. By about 8am my midwife encouraged me to get in the pool and I resisted thinking it was too soon, but soon changed my mind and was glad I did. The warm water is so wonderful and instantly relaxed me. I spent another couple of hours breathing through the increasingly strong contractions with the support of my husband and midwife.

At 10am I was struggling slightly so asked my midwife to examine me. I was 5cm dilated with intact membranes. At this point I felt I still had forever to go and asked for some entonox as it had helped me when I had my daughter. I remember feeling quite panicky at this stage, thinking it would be hours and hours and it was like a switch had flipped inside me. My midwife head had gone right out the window and although I was clearly in transition I *might* have started shouting for a hospital transfer, an epidural, a caesarean, anything to stop the pains coming. My husband told me this is exactly how I was in the final stages with my daughter but I couldn’t really make out anything anyone was saying to me.

Soon after something rather odd happened and I’m sure you’ll think I’m crazy but it was the most intense and strange experience I’ve ever had. Suddenly it felt like my head was underwater (it wasn’t!), like when you’re at a swimming pool and an hear the echoes of voices all around but the sound is muffled so you can’t make anything out. Time seemed to slow right down, almost to a slow shutter speed. It was almost like an out of body experience, but maybe I had just had a wee bit too much entonox! I wasn’t afraid, I just told my midwife I needed to push but was worried it was too soon. She told me to follow my body but I was convinced it was too early, however the urge was suddenly too strong to ignore.

After a couple of small pushes I felt everything stretching, and the midwife told my husband it was the bag of waters bulging outside my body. I remember thinking to myself “right, that’s how it will feel when he comes so just bloody get on with it!” and just breathed on the entonox as I felt his head emerge soon after. With the next push, at exactly 11:11am, Linus was born in the pool and I reached down to pick him up and bring him to my chest. We have a lovely video me holding him straight afterwards and I’m laughing and shouting “I did it! I did it!” It makes me well up with pride and love just thinking about it.

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I wanted a physiological third stage so pushed my placenta out in the pool about 20 minutes later. My midwife helped me out of the pool and checked me for perineal trauma but I didn’t need any stitches, which I was thrilled about having had a small episiotomy with my daughter. I breastfed Linus while my midwives did the paperwork etc and my husband pumped the water out of the pool. Then after that I had a wee and a shower they tucked me up in bed with a sleeping Linus, and within an hour they were gone and I was sipping my first cup of tea in 9 months and munching on pâté with crusty bread!

As I said my hospital birth was a largely positive experience, but it can’t compare with the home birth. I’m struggling to put into words how wonderful it was to be in my own home with a midwife who knew me and allowed me the freedom just to follow my instincts. I was high as a kite with happiness and pride for about two weeks afterwards! Every day when I’m sat in our front room where he was born I smile to myself and remember how it played out that day. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Strike! Why Midwives Matter

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This morning I took part in something I feel very strongly about. I joined my fellow colleagues shoulder to shoulder in the pouring rain to strike. This is the first time in 133 years that midwives have taken industrial action. Us Midwives saw our pay frozen back in 2011, frozen again in 2012, before it rose 1% in 2013. On average the typical midwife’s pay had risen in line with prices since 2010, we would be paid over £4,000 more per year than we’re actually getting. What we’re really asking for is just a 1% rise. Yes that’s all, 1% and to make this point we were on strike from 7am to 11am this morning.

Midwives really do love their jobs, in fact it’s more than just a job (ask anyone married to a midwife). As fellow midwife Pam Ward describes today ‘Midwifery is a busy but fulfilling profession, and the care of women and their babies is paramount to us all. This is why my colleagues regularly work over their hours to meet the needs of the service. Most work very unsociable hours and many are on-call overnight, going out at a moment’s notice to give care to women in labour or at other times during their pregnancy or postnatal period. This is what the job demands, and we love it.’ I wouldn’t give up this profession because I believe all women deserve excellence in midwifery care, something the NHS is striving to do. Staff work flat out, often staying late and doing large amounts of unpaid overtime, as they try their hardest to give women the best possible care they can,” said Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives. “After years of stress, pressure and overwork, being told they face another year of rising bills – but static pay – is just too much.”

And it doesn’t sit well when I hear politicians claiming there’s no money left in the pot to accommodate the proposed 1% when these politicians got a 10% pay rise!

Within my little but amazing midwifery team yesterday, 3 midwives managed to safely deliver 3 babies. 1 in hospital and 2 at home, that’s 6 lives in their hands. I won’t go into detail if any of these midwives got a break yesterday but I do know one quick thinking midwife hailed down a Police van to to take to her to one home birth quickly, and she just made the birth.

I’m not here to dissect the down sides of our profession so to end on a positive note, my fellow colleagues have described why they love being a midwife. And as I sit here with my soggy placard drying on the radiator, I stare at my pager in anticipation as at any moment one of my women might need to call their midwife.

Seeing how amazingly strong and funny women can be. Oh and drinking a lot of tea. And driving home at dawn after a lovely birth feeling on top of the world!’ 

Making a difference regardless of the circumstances‘.

The unpredictability of each day.

The joy of seeing students become midwives at the end of a course’

To be a part of the most intimate journey in a woman’s life and to be trusted with that journey is such a privilege. To witness the miracle of birth and motherhood is a dream come true. I hope I forever love my job!’

Being privileged to share in the most awesomely intense time of a woman’s life, being reminded how amazing women are on a daily basis,  feeling supported and respected by my wonderful colleagues’

Being part of such a special journey… Giving support and encouraging through good times and bad’.

Tucking a couple up in bed in their own home with their baby. Seeing the strength of women to deal with what is thrown at them when things go far off script. My amazing midwifery colleagues who teach me, inspire me and humble me on an almost daily babies’. Wow that’s some pretty inspiring stuff there from other wonderful midwives out there.

Birth Story Of The Week – Lyndsay

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This is a tale of two birth stories, both very different. I’ve rewritten this numerous times. I’m not very good at showing my emotions, but believe me, this was difficult to write.

On November 17th 2012, our little boy, Dylan Alexander Hicks arrived – he was stillborn.

Our journey to hell and back started five days earlier when my boyfriend, Nick, and I went to a routine scan appointment. Instead of finding out the sex of our baby, we found out that there was something very wrong. We were told that there was no fluid around the baby, it was instantly clear from the sonographers face that this wasn’t good. It was confirmed the next day that the baby’s kidneys were either not functioning properly, or hadn’t developed at all. He had no chance of survival outside the womb. I don’t really know how to explain how it felt to be told this. Thinking back to that moment, I can see it as though I am an onlooker, I can see myself lying on the bed, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. I think I kind of shut down after that.

Later that day we were taken in to a small room and joined by two women, I think one a consultant and one a midwife. They told us what was going to happen next, I didn’t hear anything they said. One of the women disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a plastic cup of water and a small paper cup with two pills. “You need to take these pills, we can wait a while if you prefer” she said, “I’ll have them now” I responded, and swallowed them in one gulp as if I were taking a couple of paracetamol. It didn’t dawn on me until the next day what the pills were for, “I feel different”, I told Nick, “I can suck my belly in”. Those pills were to end my baby’s life, how did I not realise that’s what they were for? I was angry at myself for being so stupid.

Two days later we were back in the hospital, I was going to be induced. As if I wasn’t hurting enough, I now had to give birth to my baby. It took 9 hours between the start of my induction and delivering the baby. I had a lot of blood taken for testing, this made me weak and woozy, I was given pain medication that made me violently sick, I was in a state of semi-consciousness, the only thing keeping me awake was the searing pain coming from my stomach. My head was lolling from side to side, I could see Nick and my mum looking at me worried, there was nothing they could do to help me, we just had to wait it out. Dylan was born just after 6pm, he was there, I could see him, his tiny lifeless body. “He’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!” I said to Nick, suddenly I was fully conscious. I was so happy to see him, which seems crazy, but the sadness had taken a backseat for a while. The midwife wrapped him in a blanket, put a tiny hat on his head and lay him in a basket, I only got to hold him properly once because he was so fragile. We got to see him a few more times, but because of his fragile state, he had to be taken back to, I presume, the morgue. The next morning we left the hospital with nothing but photographs and prints of his tiny hands and feet. As we walked to the car, we passed a couple leaving with their newborn baby, the first thing the new mother decided to do with her freedom was light up her cigarette, baby in the other arm. If I was a violent person I would have punched her right in the face. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

A month later, after the post-mortem was complete, we had a small funeral. It was very short, a few words were said before I carried Dylan’s tiny coffin to his plot. It was December, the grass was frozen underfoot, I couldn’t help but think how cold he was going to be. Time passed slowly after that, people told me it would get easier – I didn’t believe them. How could you possibly get through something like this? Well the thing is, you do – and I did.

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290 days later, on 3rd September 2013, in the same hospital, in the same maternity ward, Hamish Dylan Hicks was born.

Pregnancy hadn’t been a fun experience, I was terrified something was going to go wrong. I had a scan every two weeks to make sure everything was okay, sitting waiting for my appointment was always a stressful time, but everything was going smoothly. I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia at 34 weeks + 5 days. I was told that I would be stay in hospital until I was 37 weeks, then I would be induced. But at 35 weeks + 2 days, the morning after I’d had my last steroid injection, there was concerns about Hamish’s heartbeat on my CTG scan, he had to come out straight away. Nick wasn’t at the hospital, we were having carpet fitted in our hallway that morning, I rang him 5 times before he answered the phone. I was carted in to theatre and told that we couldn’t wait for Nick to arrive, I got my epidural and lay down on the table. Just as I was numb enough to be sliced open, Nick careered through the door with his scrubs half on. Hamish arrived with a shrill scream a couple of minutes later, I hadn’t realised they’d even started the procedure, Nick and I were just having a chat. I got to hold Hamish for about 30 seconds before he started having difficulty breathing. I didn’t see him again for 3 days. He had a few health complications that couldn’t be taken care of at our hospital, so he was taken to an Intensive Care Neonatal Unit at a hospital 40 miles away, Nick went with him but I had to wait until a bed was free to transfer me to. This was a stressful time, more so for Nick as I was off my face on pain medication, but I knew he was going to be okay, I didn’t got a second thing anything bad would happen to him. It’s strange to think about how laid back I was that Hamish got taken away, I would put up one hell of a fight if someone tried to do that now – I’m going to blame it on the morphine.

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After receiving some amazing care, Hamish left hospital a week (almost to the minute) after he was born, and he has been a healthy, happy boy ever since.

I don’t really know how to put in to words what it’s like to give birth to a stillborn, it takes you to a dark place, it feels like you will never be happy again. But I am happy again, I am happier than I have ever been, I feel so lucky that after going through such a traumatic experience, I ended up with such an amazing baby boy. We don’t talk about Dylan very often, but I think about him a lot. Sometimes I feel guilty that we are having fun without him, or sad that he didn’t have the same luck as Hamish. It’s a difficult thing to think about – if Dylan had survived, Hamish wouldn’t be here. That causes such a mix of emotions inside me that I couldn’t begin to explain it out loud – as I don’t understand it myself.

One of the gravestones near Dylan’s reads ‘A moment in our arms, a lifetime in our hearts’ – pretty cheesy, but very true.

You can find out more about us through my Instagram; http://instagram.com/lyndsay_buchanan

If anyone has/is struggling with the aftermath of stillbirth, or just wants a chat, my ears are open. Alternatively, I know that Sands (https://www.uk-sands.org/) are excellent.

‘Mummy, Where Do Babies Come From?’

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‘How do bees make babies Mummy?’

Picture the scene. It’s Friday, I’ve just got home from work and my 7 year old daughter is telling me about a boy she knows who’s Mummy has 9 children and is pregnant again. I am shocked. Not by the number of children this woman has but my daughter’s comment. ‘It’s not her fault Mummy she has so many babies it’s not like she decides to have another one every year they just keep growing inside her’.

What I found so tricky about this conversation is that maybe I should have left it at that and changed the subject, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t let my intelligent 7 year old think that’s how women get pregnant. She knows a lot about pregnancy and birth, being the daughter of a midwife and often hears me giving early labour advice on the phone or speaking to my colleagues ‘She’s how many centimetres dilated? Ok tell her to start filling the pool I’ll be there in half an hour’.

So I poured myself a glass of wine for Dutch courage and told her how a woman gets pregnant. I explained why men have willies that go hard, why fannies aren’t actually where we we wee from (diagrams helped with this bit) and I think she was pretty amazed. She liked the fact that she came from the mixing of an egg and sperm and was impressed at how clever the creation of life is. All was going well, I was giving myself a pat on the back for my diagrams and explanations. Brownie points for me. My motto is always be honest with my children and answer anything they ask me honestly.

Later that evening when I was tucking her into bed she brought up the subject again.

‘Mummy, you know that thing adults do to make a baby?’

‘Sex you mean Anya, remember it’s called sex’ I replied

‘Yeah sex, well have you and Daddy just done it twice you know to make me and Marnie?’

‘Of course sweetie, just those two times.’

Has anyone else had this conversation with their children yet? And at what age did you or them bring up the conversation?

Birth Story Of The Week – Helen and Matilda

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Hello! I’m Helen, mother to two fabulous and very loud children – Matilda, aged five, and Hugo, three. I am one-half of the comedy duo Scummy Mummies. We produce a number one podcast and comedy show taking a funny, honest look at the scummier side of parenting.

But my entrance into motherhood was quite the opposite – in fact my first labour was your full-on, all-natural, candle-burning, classical music-playing, yoga-chanting-in-the-lounge type of home birth. It was so calm, so lovely, and not very scummy at all. How my life has changed since then…

It all began when my waters broke at 9.45pm. I remember this very clearly as I was watching a show about John Prescott and laughed so hard that I thought I had wet my pants. There was a big whoosh of water and it just kept dribbling everywhere. I still think it’s hilarious that it was John Prescott who sent me into Labour…

My husband’s reaction was to run around in circles while looking panic-stricken. Obviously this was very helpful for me. I do recommend other birthing partners do the same. The contractions started at 11.30pm. At first they were about half an hour apart, but then they sped up fairly quickly. I tried to breathe through them and keep positive through the pain. Despite six months of yoga and breathing training, that first proper contraction was a huge shock, but I was determined to stay focused.

I was doing lots of Omming, Owwing and Oooohing – the neighbours must have been thrilled! I know my husband was. It might sound ridiculous, but it worked like magic and I felt really able to manage the pain. I rang the hospital and at about 3am a midwife came to the house. I had dilated to nearly 2cm and was getting strong contractions every 10 minutes. The midwife told me to take a Panadol and lie down, adding that she would come back later. I had been hoping for some lovely drugs and a massage, but apparently I was coping so well I didn’t need them – bummer! So my husband and I were left to do our 10 minute moaning sessions by ourselves.

But the midwife did give me an amazing piece of very simple advice: “Always lower your shoulders when the contractions come, and slow down your breathing.” Funnily enough, this got me through! I had a lovely bath (cue the candles and classical music) which helped me to relax and get into the rhythm of the contractions. Will, my husband, made himself useful by reminding me to only do “out breaths” and stay calm. He massaged my back and hands as I lay on my side in the bath and concentrated on my breathing. When I stopped focusing I started thinking about the pain too much, which made my breath get short and then I would throw up. That bit wasn’t so great!

At one point, which I now think was transition, I screamed, “I want to go to hospital and have an epidural” – followed by lots of swearwords I now forget. But Will kept me positive and helped me to keep breathing and relaxing.

By around 7am, I knew things were really happening so we rang the hospital again. By this time I was sitting in the lounge on a fit ball while Will set up the pool. I tried using the Tens machine but this seemed to make the contractions worse, so I decided it wasn’t right for me (i.e. I through it across the room in a rage.)

I should also mention that this was when my husband turned to me and said, “I’m really tired, you know – I did a full day’s work yesterday.” This was not his best moment and let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for his predicament.

The midwife arrived at 8am, by which time I had dilated to 7cm. I was doing my contractions over the ball, swaying a lot, doing my “golden thread breath” and making the “ssshhhhh” sound. About half an hour later I got into the lovely warm pool and started using more sounds to get through the pain – lots of Ooooos, Ohhhhhs and Aaaaawwws. Again, this sounds funny now I think about it, but it was a really good way of communicating my pain levels to the midwife. Will said it was like listening to a car being tuned! (He watches a lot of Top Gear.)

My midwife, Claire, who had been visiting us at home in the run-up to the birth, had just started her shift and we got a call to say she could come straight away to deliver my baby. I nearly cried. It was so lovely to have the midwife I adored and trusted with me.

Claire arrived just as the second stage really kicked-off. We had more candles, more classical music and everyone spoke very softly and calmly. The pushing part was intense, but I got through it with all those sounds while holding tightly to Will’s hands. I ended up on all fours which was great, as I could look at him and feel supported by the water. (It was also good as there were a couple of incidents in the pool that required a sieve and I was pleased not to see that – I did regret eating lamb shanks the night before.)

When Matilda’s head crowned, the midwife told me to put my hands down and catch her. With one big push, a twist and a turn, I pulled her out of the water and held her in my arms. She came out screaming and was big, purple and amazing. She yelled for about 15 minutes, so she was definitely alive and well! We decided to name her Matilda Claire – this means “strong and mighty” as she was then and remains today! She also shares her middle name with my sister and, of course, my midwife.

We left the cord attached while I sat in the pool for an hour. It was so calm and relaxing. Matilda and I shared some lovely skin to skin contact as she kicked about in the water. The midwives gave me a huge spoonful of honey and made themselves a cuppa.

Then it was time for stage three – Will cut the cord, I hopped out of the pool and the midwives popped a carrier bag on the floor. The placenta flopped out with one big push! I have never felt so glamorous in my life. The midwife checked my downstairs for war wounds and to my relief, no stitches were required! What a vagina!

And what a baby! Matilda was born on her due date, Tuesday 28 October, at 11.45am. She weighed 8lbs 3oz and was gorgeous.

The midwives left around 2pm. Will, Matilda and I hung out on the coach staring at each other for a few hours. Then my mum and dad arrived to make us cheese on toast. Job done!

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My daughter is nearly six now and I have since had a second hippy-dippy, drug-free, moan-filled water birth. It was just as wonderful and I highly recommend it! I feel extremely lucky to have had a supportive husband and brilliant midwives helping to make both my births truly beautiful experiences.

Anyway, that’s enough lovely gushing. I must get back to writing about feeding my kids Haribo and fish fingers for dinner.

The Scummy Mummies Podcast is available for free via iTunes or ScummyMummies.com. Check out episode 14, ‘Midwife Crisis’, featuring the fabulous Clemmie Hooper! The Scummy Mummies stage show is performed monthly at The Hob in Forest Hill – visit their website for details. Twitter: @scummymummies

Birth Story Of The Week – Alice and Jonty

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I had an induced labour: I have an autoimmune disease and had had a previous operation on my diaphragm so late pregnancy was very painful for me. This, coupled with an apparently giant baby (off the charts at 35 weeks) meant that my consultant was keen to induce if I went overdue. Which I did. The pain actually lessened a lot in the last few days before the induction, as the baby dropped down, and I toyed with the idea of cancelling the induction but I was too impatient to meet our baby, and fed up of being pregnant!

I went in for the induction at 6am on the Monday morning. I had a pessary inserted at 8 and was encouraged to walk about. A few flights of stairs later and by 2pm I was experiencing bad period pains. By 4 they had turned into contractions. I carried on walking about and strapped on my tens machine. By 9 I was getting three in ten and I finally got the midwife to agree to examine me (after she’d hooked me up to the monitor to check I actually was contracting – I was!). I was only 2cm dilated so my husband Tom was sent home and told to expect a call in the night.

The contractions got worse and worse so I was examined again in the early hours of the morning but hadn’t progressed. They took the pessary out and I had some pethidine so I could sleep. A couple of hours later I was pacing the corridors again. I really hated labouring on my own, I wished I could have been at home, especially as I was on the main ward, with women whose inductions hadn’t worked or ones who needed their babies monitoring. I felt bad that my labour was progressing well and din’t want to cry out. The hours seems to drag by, I bounced on my ball, used my tens and tried to listen to music – Bonobo worked best for me.

By the morning, I was 4cm but there was no room on labour ward. By this point I was getting worked up. I had a bath, but that meant I had to take the tens off, and I couldn’t get it back up to the level I’d had, so went without. We finally went to labour ward about midday, where I leapt on the gas and air. I had the drip put up and my waters broke. I had an epidural, which was lovely. Until I began to be able to feel one leg. At first I thought this was hilarious but it quickly became that I could feel pain in one leg, then half of contractions, then all my contractions. When they checked my cervix the epidural fell out. I was fully dilated and ready to push. The pain was so intense, I’d gone from contractions at 5cm to fully dilated contractions with no pain in between, and the jump felt massive.

They got another epidural in but I was already pushing by then. The midwife kept putting her finger in up to one knuckle and saying that’s where the head was – but the distance didn’t change and I couldn’t push any more. I felt suddenly very calm as I told them I couldn’t push this baby out. They said he was too far down for a c-section but the doctor would come. I knew I needed help, he’d turned at the last minute and so was back to back and stuck.

The doctor arrived and got out the forceps. By this point the epidural had sunk in again (phew!) so I had one episiotomy, and then another. But Jonty was born in a big tumble, like a lamb on Countryfile and I tore badly. It was ten to 1 on the Wednesday morning. I don’t remember seeing him, although apparently they did put him on me. I can just remember the doctors assessing how much of my anal sphincter was damaged and thinking ‘this really has gone wrong now’. I was losing a lot of blood so they rushed me off the theatre, leaving Tom to have skin to skin with Jonty.

I went into shock apparently so don’t remember much of what happened next but I had a bad third degree tear which they stitched up. After about an hour I was wheeled out, Tom and little Jonty met us in the corridor and I had my first cuddle. He was visibly starving and I felt so dreadful that I hadn’t been able to feed him.

That remains the worst part of it all.

But anyway, he fed well that night and has continued to do so. My recovery was slow and I spent another couple of days in hospital as i kept fainting and had a crazy high pulse rate. The first few months were very painful, and I’ve been left without much pelvic floor strength but I’m having physio. I’ll have a C section next time and it feels a bit sad that I’ll never get the birth I’d hoped for, but having a lovely baby is so worth it. I wish it had gone differently and massively regret being induced but I wasn’t to know. I’m just so lucky that it didn’t affect how I bonded with Jonty, he fed well from the beginning and is now a massive 22lb at 6 months. He’s a superstar and I love being his mama.